active Keeping a daily pattern of sleeping, eating, and moving about.
adult The full-grown life stage of an animal, when it is able to reproduce.
alarm call A sound made by an animal that tells other animals that a predator is nearby.
alternate When twigs and buds are single along the branch, not directly across from each other.
annual A plant that completes its life cycle in one year, living long enough to produce seeds and then dying.
anther The pollen-making part of the flower, at the tip of the filament, where the pollen grains are found.
antifreeze A substance that keeps water from freezing.
bark The tough outer covering of a tree’s trunk, stems, and branches.
bee guide Spots, dashes or lines on flower petals that guide pollinators to the center of the flower for pollen and nectar.
biennial A plant that takes two years to complete its life cycle, growing roots, stems, and leaves in the first year, and then flowers and seeds in the second year before it dies.
bird call Short, simple sounds made by birds, both young and old, male and female, at any time of the year, to communicate about danger, food, or to stay in touch with flock members.
bird song A special pattern of notes sung by male songbirds in the spring and summer, to attract a female and defend a territory. Each species has a unique song that can be used for identifying the bird.
bud Small bumps at the ends and along the sides of twigs that contain the beginnings of leaves, flowers and shoots for the coming growing season.
bud scale A thin, tough covering on a bud that gives it protection.
bud scale scar A series of rings on the twig, like threads on a screw, that show where the bud scales of a previous year’s buds grew. The distance between bud scale scars on a twig shows how much the tree grew in a year.
bundle scar Dots within the leaf scars that are the remains of the tubes that carried water and nutrients in and out of the leaves.
cache Stored food; or, to store away a supply of food.
cambium A very thin layer of tissue between the inner bark and the sapwood, that builds new wood and new bark.
chrysalis The papery-shelled pupa of a butterfly, inside which the caterpillar turns into an adult.
circumference A measure of the distance around something.
cocoon A protective case of silk, spun by a moth larva, in which it pupates and turns into an adult.
complete metamorphosis In insects, changing from egg to adult in a four-stage process including egg, larva, pupa and adult, with a complete change during the pupa stage so the adult is very different from the larva in appearance, behavior, diet and habitat.
cotyledon The starchy, food-storing part of a seed. Also called “seed leaf.”
dispersal Moving to a new location, such as plant seeds with parachutes floating away from the parent plant.
dormancy Sleeping for long periods of time in winter, though waking up occasionally to eat.
egg The first stage in the life cycle of an insect; a capsule containing the tiny beginnings of an insect or other animal.
embryo The tiny beginnings of a new plant or animal.
emerge To come out of the egg or pupa case.
evaporation Changing from a liquid to a gas, such as when water that is heated becomes water vapor.
fertilization In plants, the combining of pollen with an ovule inside a flower. The fertilized ovule develops into a seed.
filament A thin stalk that is part of the flower stamen, the pollen-bearing part of a flower, and that holds up the anthers and pollen.
flight calls Sounds made by birds while flying, to communicate with others of their kind; often heard in flocks while migrating at night.
floret One of the very small flowers in a flower head, such as those clustered into a single blossom in dandelions and daisies.
flower The part of flowering plants where the seeds are formed, often with colorful petals and sweet nectar to attract pollinators.
flower head A cluster of small flowers at the top of a stem, sometimes grouped into a single blossom as in dandelions, or more spread out as in goldenrods.
frass The droppings of insect larvae.
gall An abnormal growth on a plant caused by another organism, often an insect or mite.
gall-maker An organism that causes a plant to form a swelling which it lives in or on during part of its life cycle.
generation All the offspring born or hatched at about the same time.
habitat The place where an animal lives, and where it finds food, water, shelter and a place to raise its young.
heartwood Wood at the center of the tree trunk that is very hard and gives strength to the tree.
hibernaculum A den, often underground, where an animal or group of animals spends the winter while hibernating.
hibernate To spend the winter in a special body state with greatly-lowered temperature, breathing, and heart rate, not eating or leaving the den for many months.
hilum The indentation on a bean or pea seed where it attaches to the pod.
hypocotyl The tiny beginnings of a stem found inside a seed.
insect A small animal with a hard outer skin, three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), six jointed legs, two antennae, compound eyes and usually four wings as an adult.
instar In insects, the stages between molts in the larva or nymph. The first instar hatches from the egg, the second instar is between the first and second molt, etc.
larva The worm-like stage of insects that hatches from the egg and that is the main feeding stage, found in those with complete metamorphosis.
lateral bud The buds on the sides of twigs.
leaf scar In deciduous trees, the lighter-colored area on a twig that remains after a leaf falls off.
lenticels Tiny, corky lines or dots on the bark of a twig that allow it to breathe.
life cycle The stages an animal or plant goes through in its lifetime, from its beginnings until it grows up and can have offspring.
migrant A bird that migrates and so is only here during a certain season of the year.
migrate To make a regular trip, often of very long distance, between separate summer and winter habitats.
migration A journey, often of very long distance, between separate summer and winter habitats.
mite A tiny animal related to ticks and spiders.
nymph An immature form of an insect that looks somewhat like a miniature adult but without wings, found in insects with simple metamorphosis.
offspring The young of plants or animals.
opposite When twigs and buds grow directly across from each other on the branch.
ovary The bulb-shaped part of a flower pistil, in which the ovules form and develop into seeds.
ovule A tiny structure inside the ovary of a flower that, when fertilized by pollen, becomes a seed.
pappus The white downy fluff on a dandelion floret. It becomes the parachute when the seed is ripe and helps the seed to be carried by wind.
perennial A plant that lives for more than two years, flowering and producing seeds each year and then dying back to the ground, with the roots living for many years and putting up new shoots in the spring.
petal The flower parts that surround the pistil and stamens, often colorful to attract insect pollinators.
pistil The seed-bearing parts of a flower, made up of the stigma, style and ovary.
pith The inner core of a twig, which can have a different color, shape or texture from the rest of the twig.
plumule The tiny beginnings of a leaf, found inside a seed.
pollen Tiny grains produced in the anthers, that are needed for fertilization of the ovules, in order to produce seeds.
pollination The carrying of pollen from one flower to another by wind or by insects, birds, or other animals, so that the seeds can develop.
pupa The non-feeding stage in insects between larva and adult, during which the tissues and organs of the larva change into those needed by the adult, usually inside a hardened case or cocoon.
pupate To turn into a pupa and change into an adult.
radicle The tiny beginnings of a root, found inside a seed.
range All the places where a particular kind of animal can be found over the year.
reproduce To mate and have offspring, or in plants, to produce spores or seeds that grow a new generation of plants.
resident An animal that remains in a place all year long.
rival An animal competing for the same partner or territory.
sap The fluid that moves through a tree’s trunk carrying food to the branches and leaves.
sapwood Wood in the trunk of the tree that transports water and nutrients from the roots to the branches.
seasonal cycle Particular stages in the lives of animals or plants that are timed to coincide with different seasons.
seed In a flowering plant’s life cycle, a structure that contains the tiny beginnings of a new plant and a food supply, enclosed in a protective covering, and that can grow into a new plant.
seed coat The protective outer covering of a seed.
seed head The dried flower, or cluster of flowers, at the tip of a stem, that contain the seeds.
sepal The outermost ring of flower parts, usually green but sometimes colored like petals, that protect the developing bud.
simple metamorphosis In insects, changing from egg to adult in a three-stage process including egg, nymph and adult, with the nymph changing gradually into the adult form.
songbird A group of small-sized birds that are especially good at singing, including thrushes, warblers, sparrows, wrens, finches and others – more than half of all the birds in the world.
stamen The pollen-bearing parts of a flower, made up of filament and anther.
stigma A sticky structure at the top of the pistil, for trapping pollen grains.
strap A long, flat, narrow petal like those on a dandelion floret.
stridulate In insects, to make noise by rubbing one body part against another, such as crickets rubbing wings together to chirp or grasshoppers rubbing a wing against a leg.
style The neck-like part of the pistil, the seed-bearing structure in flowers, between the ovary and the stigma, through which the pollen must grow to reach the ovules.
sugaring Collecting sap from maple trees and boiling it down into syrup.
syrinx The sound-producing organ in birds, located inside the windpipe.
tap To drill a hole in a maple tree so the sap will run out into collecting buckets or tubes. Also, the spout that is hammered into a maple tree to collect the sap.
terminal bud The bud at the tip of a twig.
territory An area that an animal, or a pair of animals, defends from others of its kind.
twig A thin woody shoot on a tree or shrub.
whorled When three or more buds or twigs are arranged in a circle around one place on branch.